COVID-19 wave: Bombay HC extends interim orders passed in cases till May 7

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Mumbai, Apr 16 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Friday said all interim orders passed by it and its benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa and subordinate courts in Maharashtra which are valid till April 19 shall stand extended unconditionally till May 7 owing to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state.

Describing the prevailing coronavirus situation in Maharashtra as alarming, the HC has also decided to take up only urgent matters for hearing virtually till May 7.

A special bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justices A A Sayed, S S Shinde and P B Varale, noted that litigants might not be able to approach courts urgently due to the April 13 order of the Maharashtra government imposing new restrictions on public movement.

“The second wave of the pandemic, arising out of COVID-19 virus, has been wreaking havoc just as the first wave did in the year that went by,” the court said in its order, adding the government had issued an order, titled 'Break the Chain', imposing restrictions on public movement till May 1 to combat the virus.

The bench said such measures and restrictions on people and other activities have rendered it difficult to conduct judicial proceedings and as an obvious consequence, access to justice has been hindered.

It added that since the prevailing situation in Maharashtra is alarming with exponential rise in active cases and to protect the interest of all those who have been or are disabled to access justice, all interim orders passed by the courts across the state shall stand extended unconditionally till May 7.

The high court on Friday also decided to take up only urgent matters for hearing virtually till May 7 after which the court would close for summer vacation.

As per a notice issued by the high court, division benches and single benches would hear matters on alternate days of the week till May 7.

Another notice issued by the HC said all subordinate courts in the state shall assemble in one shift of two-and-a-half hours and hear urgent matters only.

After a coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown was imposed in March last year, all benches of the Bombay HC had stopped physical hearings, and were conducting proceedings for urgent cases through video conferencing.

However, in December last year, the principal bench at Mumbai resumed physical hearings for all cases on four out of the five working days a week.

Earlier this month, the courts reverted to hearing matters virtually owing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in the country. PTI SP RSY